omg. what is up with me exporting the wrong documents to these stories?! so, the story wasn't supposed to start at chapter three, really. and i don't even remember what i put in my author's note the first time i wrote this. i am so sorry!

erm, enjoy? (i edited the end a bit. fleshed it out just a little more. yay!)

blahblah. STORY TIME!

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.just full of bad ideas.

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chapter one. (of all the gin joints)

Well. I knew that sitting next to him would be a bad idea.

Knew it.

But reader, it really wasn't my idea, per se—so I honestly don't think I should be held accountable for any of this decision's particularly awful repercussions. And it wasn't really a decision because, hello, it was Fate's idea, and who was I to say No to Fate?

And I mean, really, the seat beside him just happened to be the only seat available in the whole entire classroom.

Okay. Maybe not the only seat.

But it was either I sat next to him, the dark-haired Paul Walker look-alike with the sexily-raised eyebrow, or—brace yourselves—the sweet girl with the pigtails and the Colgate smile, or the friendly-looking boy in the charming pink Polo, or the friend of a friend who waved at me when I came in. Or the other ten empty seats.

So, as you can see, Fate—or destiny, or Cupid—had knocked down all my other options, leaving me with . . .

"Hey," I greeted as I sat down, sticking my thumbs into the holes that mysteriously appeared (or so I cheekily told my mother) in my dark blue sweater. Izzy said that my ratty gloves were dorky and so she suggested thumb holes. Apparently they helped keep your hands warm, but I still didn't think they really worked. Izzy said, "But they look cool, don't they?" and so I had to stop complaining about the fact that my hands were still cold and that my mom still frowned whenever she saw the damage I'd mourningly inflicted on my precious sweater.

Anyway. Paul Walker grunted, not even sparing me a glance, and I was like, "Whatever. Suit yourself, kid." Well, I didn't say that out loud, but if I did, I bet he would feel so reprimanded.

I just turned to my right and grinned at the other two people at our table. Well, my table. "Our" was a bit too intimate, and Paulie over there wouldn't like that too much, would he?

And they totally smiled back, so, reassured, I . . . made a face—my favorite funny face that I used to win people over with. I twisted my mouth so it was almost at a diagonal (a real talent, mind you), cocked my head, squinted my eyes (I would've crossed them, but I wasn't that talented), and wiggled my fingers at the side of my ears.

It was a test, see?

And both of them passed. The boy with flying colors, the girl just barely. Actually, she pretty much flunked. "Barely passing" was a politely euphemistic phrase. She, uh, rolled her eyes and sneered at me — kind of stung, actually — but I was sure she just needed some time. Lots of people needed time. I know I would need time to get used to the sneering.

But more importantly, the guy — a cute, gray-eyed blonde — just laughed and imitated the face. Yes, imitated it. To perfection. What a stud!

Blondie Gray-Eyes and I started to challenge each other with our own interpretations of The Face. The person with the most wildly-moving fingers and the most repulsively distorted countenance won. At least that's what I understood. I could be wrong, but really, what other rules could there be?

"What are you doing?"

I froze mid-finger wiggle and spun my head back to my left, feeling the heat rise to my cheeks.

Okay, so I really wasn't an outgoing I-Don't-Care-What-People-Think-Of-Me person, dear reader — I just pretended I was when I felt up to it because it made me feel cool. So if someone called me out on my doing something stupid, my first instinct was to mumble an awkward apology and dig a hole to China. Or fling a rodent at the offender. I'd never actually done any of those things, but I always thought they were pretty good instincts.

Paul Walker (Hmm, Pwalker sound good?) was narrowing his eyes and staring at me inquiringly (read: like I was a loser), and it made me feel . . . like I was a loser!

It was a good thing I had my back toward Pwalker when I was making The Face, because then he only saw my wiggling fingers, and not my completely gross expression — which Blondie Gray-Eyes pulled off insanely well.

Brunette-Girl Sneery sort of smiled, answering for me: "Winning us over, I presume."

Whoa, there. Definitely not a flunk-er. And she didn't need much time at all!

I turned to her in surprise, and then beamed brightly. "Yeah, what she said," I sniffed. I loved forming alliances (AKA friendships) with people. It was ever-rewarding, dear reader, ever-rewarding!

Pwalker grunted.

Charming.

I felt the timidity in me passing off in waves, and I asked my fellow classmates what their favorite colors were (Blondie: Purple; Brunette-y: "Same here"; Pwalker: Grunt), their favorite foods, how their summer went — you know, the boring conversation starters that come with the first day of school. Or at least in kindergarten they did.

Abruptly realizing what a terrible conversationalist I was, I politely excused myself from the conversation and pulled out my cell phone to text my brother, Mike. He was almost worse than me.

Boo.

He responded a few seconds later: Is for horses.

I shook my head and smiled to myself, typing, Science class is boring me and the teacher's not even here yet. (Teachers at Florentine High had a habit of coming twenty minutes late to every class on the first day of school—they wanted to give us some time to "get to know each other." Pah, how cheesy.)

Then he said, Awesome.

Bye, I responded.

See yas.

Well, I'm aware of the fact that that conversation made little to no sense, but that's of little importance — the incident that was of consequence was Blondie tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Can I borrow a pen?"

Absolutely momentous.

But at the same time, Pwalker asked—absolutely momentously— "Texting your boyfriend?"

"Nope," I grinned, but I looked straight ahead so they didn't know who I was talking to. Hehe.

. . . I guess both of them knew what I was doing because they didn't say anything anymore.

I sighed disappointedly and took out my makeup compact and my lip balm. Okay. I honestly didn't need a mirror to apply Chapstick. It just made me feel mature — Chapstick was the only "makeup" I was allowed to use because my mom said I was too young for anything else. Therefore I forced (ahem, begged) her to buy me a compact and lots of yummy-flavored Chapstick because she already deprived me of the opportunity to be artistic with my face.

Let's see here . . . berry medley? Nah, too kiddish.

. . . Wait. I was a kid.

I took out the purple tube of Chapstick, unscrewed the top, peered at it closely, then — bit it.

I chewed thoughtfully for a second, and then—"Gross!" I cried, and reached for the precautionary pack of Kleenex in my backpack to spit out that violet piece of grossness. You'd think something called "berry medley" would taste good. Like Starbursts or something.

"'The heck is wrong with you?"

I turned to my left sheepishly, seeing Pwalker shake his head at me, causing his black, black, black hair to flop messily against his forehead, the surprised wrinkle in which displayed something akin to concern. Oh, he did love me!

I opened my mouth to reply, but he just shook his head again and buried it within his arms. "Don't wanna know," he grunted. Okay, wishful thinking. Whatever.

"Fine," I said huffily, but my cheeks were still burning. "Hey, what's your name?" I asked curiously after a moment. Pwalker was beginning to sound like some sort of tropical bird's mating call. Like, you know, Pwaaaalker, pwaaaalker! I mean, if I called him that, would he think I wanted the two of us to—mate?! I was taking no chances. Hence the name-asking.

He lifted his head lazily, but his stare was hard and lovely and thoughtful. "Why?" he grunted.

Why? What the heck kind of question was that? "Because," I said.

"'The heck kind of answer is that?" he grunted in annoyance.

"I just wanna know, okay? Sheesh!" I growled, crossing my arms. For Pete's sake, the prospect of my acquaintanceship couldn't have been that appalling. Apparently he thought it was, and that was kind of frustrating. Time, girl. Give him some ti—

"Well you're not going to know," he said, smirking, and I was tired of being patient. I opened my mouth to—well, I don't know quite what I was going to do, but luckily, I was interrupted.

"His name is Chandler."

I turned to the pretty brunette who had recently become my savior and grinned my thanks. Chandler was a cute name. It didn't really fit him, but—

"'Cept no one calls him that," Blondie added. "They call him—"

I couldn't help but let out a laugh there. "They call him" just sounded so . . . imperiously corny, and . . . was I the only person who thought that?

"Finish that sentence and I swear I'll fling rats at you. Really, Noland, I think you ought to respect who I choose to reveal my name to. You too, Hannah," he remonstrated, and we all rolled our eyes at him.

Was I not worthy to have his name "revealed" to me? Sheesh. What a loser. Maybe I didn't want to get to know him after all. And come on, what kind of person threatened to throw rodents at someone like that?

Well, dang it. He was fascinating.

I smiled despite myself. "I'll tell you my name if you tell me yours." See, Mom said I should never waste the opportunity to get to know a person, because I never knew what kind of blossoming relationship I would form with him or her.

"You already know mine," he grunted. He got me there.

"Yeah, but no one calls you Chandler! I'd look like a loser!" I whined.

"What else is new?" the prick asked under his breath.

"Fine," I glared. "Then I'll call you Chandler. Or Bing."

"Bing?" he asked, raising a brow.

"Chandler Bing? From Friends?"

"I don't really watch TV," he grunted. Cool. Me neither. But my best friend Izzy was obsessed with the show and forced me to watch a billion episodes from her box set of DVDs.

Not that I was going to admit that to him. I kind of just made my patronizing What a loserkeep up with the times! face, which, I must admit, I stole from Izzy. And then I said, "Okay, Bingy Boy, cover your ears because I'm going to reveal my name to your other two friends here, and I don't want you overhearing."

He grunted, but did so.

"Mackenzie," I whispered to Noland and Hannah, and they nodded these Pleased-to-meet-you nods. "But call me Mack, or I'll — kick you."

I pulled Chandler's hands off from over his ears, and his face registered the slightest surprise. "Well, Bing," I said. "Don't you wanna know my name now that your friends do?"

"No," he grunted. "Peer pressure's stupid." And there was a challenging amusement in his eyes that I decided to ignore because, really, grunty jerks just weren't allowed to be amused.

"You're stupid," I frowned, buried my head in my arms, and slept. Bing gently—ha, not really—shook me awake about ten minutes later when the frazzled, profusely-apologizing, wild-haired, new Physics teacher arrived with her arms full of syllabi that kept dropping to the floor.

That was kinda nice of him.

Oh, it was going to be a long year.

. . .

"How was school, hun?" Mom asked right when I stepped inside the door, smiling in approval as I dusted off my shoes on the faded welcome mat.

I thought about Bing and all the stuff I had to get signed with a lazy scratch of my head.

"Yummy like pistachios," I mumbled, draping myself across the delicious leather couch as if I had just come back from saving the world with one finger and not a single bag of Cheetos.

"That's nice," she grinned affectionately, pushing back the strands of red-gold hair from my forehead, kissing it gently.

Man, moms were so cool. Made me feel all fuzzy. Like Bing's chin. I resolved to tell him to shave the next time I saw him as mom continued talking. Hmm. I didn't think I had to be paying attention to her . . . but did I? Nah. I tuned in anyway, just in case she was telling me I could steal all her money.

Reader, I kid.

Not that this was an instance of this so called "kidding," but yeah, I kid sometimes.

". . . Well, I have to get back to work, but there's some pasta on the stove if you get hungry, alright?"

"Mmmhmm," I answered sleepily, glad that I had caught the important part. As she closed the door behind her, I wondered to myself dreamily—of all the seats in that classroom, why the flying flip did I choose the one next to him?

I decided that it wasn't my fault. Because it wasn't my fault he looked like Paul Walker.

. . . Yep, I was completely blameless in the situation. I tried to stop myself from grinning angelically at the thought, and I did. But the humming just wouldn't quit!

Darn it. I sat up, stretching my arms back, as another thought occurred to me: I still had to deal with the consequences.

And that, dear reader, was me being dramatic, which was most likely a result of my school-induced fatigue. I mean, what kind of "consequences" could I incur from bugging a guy named Bing? Exactly, Fate (or destiny, or Cupid), hear me r—

Oh, wait. Bing.

That rhymes with . . . sting. Cling. Wing. String. And wrestling ring. And fling!

This does sound dangerous.

(Izzy would say I'm being ridiculous, but her name rhymes with frizzy and dizzy so she's a little biased, don't you think?)

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end chapter one.

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